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New future coming into focus on fateful Louisville site

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Developer Michael Eisenstein says he has concerns about the development plan for the Phillips-66-owned property right next to a small plot of land he owns in town. Eisenstein toured the property on Sept. 17.

It’s Louisville’s land of opportunity, and it could be a bustling place a decade from now if a Denver development firm has its way.

However, a neighboring property owner and developer is hoping Louisville officials see things from his perspective and reject plans he feels are too big, too dense and born of a mind-set that emphasizes profit over quality.

Phillips 66 has made no bones about wanting to offload roughly 430 acres of highly visibly, highway-accessible real estate it owns at the northwest notch of U.S. 36 and the Northwest Parkway in Louisville. A potential buyer has the property under contract, but Phillips 66 officials have declined to say who.

The city of Louisville’s “current developments” web page provides a solid clue. Since June, Denver’s Brue Baukol Capital Partners has submitted a load of documents, including two versions of a general development plan, for the triangular chunk of land known to many in the area as the StorageTek property.

Brue Baukol is calling it Nawatny Ridge, according to recent plans. Under the company’s vision, the parcel’s 390 “developable acres” could be home to 6.4 million square feet of new construction by 2040.

Existing zoning put in place in 2010 allows for a maximum of 2.5 million square feet of development on the site, Louisville planning director Rob Zuccaro said in an email. The new plans call for a drastic jump in density — a 156% increase — that rubs Michael Eisenstein the wrong way.

Eisenstein is the founder of Louisville-based Land Capital, a development firm with a number of projects in the works in Boulder County and Denver. He owns a 1.5-acre parcel at the corner of South 88th Street and Campus Drive in Louisville. It shows up in Brue Baukol’s site plans as a small cutout in the northwest corner of the larger property.

“It’s a massacre of land,” Eisenstein said of Brue Baukol’s plans. “They already know what they want on that land. All it is, is a major flip. Minimize cost. Maximize profit. Create margin. I know that because I’m a damn developer, too.”

Courtesy of McGeady Becher P.C., City of Louisville

This vicinity photo illustration map shows the service plan for P66 Metropolitan District No. 1 from the city of Louisville.

The property has a lot of recent history. It was the headquarters of Louisville’s most high-profile corporate citizen, StorageTek, before that company was bought out by Sun Microsystems in 2005. In 2008, ConocoPhillips bought the land from Sun for $55.6 million with plans to turn it into a state-of-the-art research campus employing 7,000 people. That project never materialized.

Phillips 66 spun off from its parent company in 2012 and has been trying to sell the property for years. An estimated $50 million deal with a California investment group that was pitching the land to Amazon during the HQ2 sweepstakes fell through last year.

Brue Baukol did not respond to repeated calls and emails seeking comment for this story. A letter submitted to Louisville in June is the developer’s most thorough public comment on what could be a transformational project at crossroads of Louisville, Superior and Broomfield.

“(Brue Baukol Capital Partners) aims to create a master-planned mixed-use community that both activates another node of the community while paying homage to its historical openness,” Jordan Swisher, a vice president with the firm, wrote in that letter.

Swisher outlined plans for a 1,500-unit senior living and continuing care facility there. The middle of property would host a 500,000-square-foot corporate campus expected to bring 2,500 jobs to town.

Brue Baukol has a tenant/buyer on the line for that project. Swisher described it as “a large organization (that) has identified this property as a best-in-class opportunity for a new office space development and headquarters … ”

The company’s most recent plan calls for 40% of the developable space there — more than 157 acres — to be preserved as open space. The remainder of the land would host as much as 3.4 million square feet of office, retail and hotel space.

Eisenstein believes Louisville would be better served it if Brue Baukol dedicated 80% of the property as open space.

“The fact of the matter is this is the development of the past in the region,” he said. “Now that land prices are higher and rents are higher, you don’t need to create a gridlike city anymore.”

Developer Michael Eisenstein says he has ...

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Developer Michael Eisenstein toured the proposed development area on Sept. 17.

Louisville’s infrastructure, like the two-lane South 88th Street that forms the property’s western boundary, is ill-equipped to handle traffic the plan would bring, he says. He’s also concerned about the speed at which Brue Baukol has been moving to get its plans approved.

After submitting its initial plan in late June, the company was set to go before the Louisville planning commission on Sept. 12 before requesting a last-minute extension. Louisville Mayor Bob Muckle this week said Louisville officials suggested to Brue Baukol that it take its time with the plans and “do this right.”

The firm submitted a much more detailed traffic and mobility study and an updated development plan last week. Those documents will be reviewed by planning staff and Broomfield and Boulder county officials before any hearing is scheduled.

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